This isn’t an obvious choice for my blog, but bear with – it will make sense in a minute. If you were wondering, I have never even tried a martial art myself and my personal knowledge is almost entirely limited to the Karate Kid movies, however one of my flatmates at Uni was a black belt in Aikido and his daily practices outside our place probably deterred any potential burglars, as well as impressing the rest of us with his commitment and dedication. Then I didn’t give it a second thought until my son started both judo and karate and I, like many other mums, found myself spending hours sitting outside the dojo.
As a mum of an enthusiastic seven-year-old, martial arts were pitched to me as self-defence, strength, and co-ordination training rather than combative, and offered in both our local community hall as well as at an after school club, so pretty much all his friends participated in one form or another, many did both. So from the title to the opening lines of this book I was a little surprised to see the emphasis on fighting, although in the context of the “mean streets” it makes sense. In fact, this sets the scene for a gritty, hard-hitting recount of a fascinating life bringing in class, race, and society generally. It’s by no means a light read, or an easy read, but I’m passing it to my now teenaged son to see what he thinks (NB: given the content, this book is not recommended for younger readers). In the meantime, I’m going to finish by saying I fully expect this to be turned into a movie or, more probably, a docufilm.
Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.
About the author
Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter.